Definition of success

Above my desk hangs my one and only platinum record. It was for Switchfoot’s The Beautiful Letdown (which was one of my all time favorite projects to work) and I kind of look at it as a line in the sand between two different worlds: the way things used to be and the way things are now. One way isn’t better than the other, per say, but rather it’s a change of attitude, perspective and way of doing things.

I think it’s hard for people to wrap their heads around change that happens as fast as technology is advancing us. That’s obviously a huge problem for the music industry. For massive record labels they are not as free to move as quickly as they need to. They are kind of like a aircraft carrier that needs to be warned three miles ahead of time when they need to turn right. If you are in a speedboat, which is obviously much smaller, you are able to move quickly and make hairpin turns at a moments notice. The world is changing quickly and as artists you need to be able to change, maneuver, and update very quickly. There are pros and cons to both sides of the story, but you need to figure out ahead of time what your goals are and what your definition of success is. 

With the smaller speedboat approach your measure of what is considered “successful” will differ greatly with that of a record label. If a signed artist sells 200,000 copies of an album some may see that as a huge failure, where an independent artist (or one signed to an indie label) would see that as a massive success. It’s all about perspective. And it’s something that you, as the artist, need to determine as a means of measuring your success. 

If you are getting into music to become rich, I hate to be the one to break it to you, but you need to change careers. If you live, eat, breathe music and can’t imagine life not being a musician, you have a fighting chance. If you haven’t heard about 1,000 True Fansgive it a good read and think about it. You want to have people who a.) want to purchase anything and everything that you put out, b.) are dedicated to what you are doing, and c.) consider that being a platinum selling artist just might not have to be a definition of success. 

What is your definition of success?